From: SPOTLIGHT: NATIVE ART CONTEST WINNER JACOB MAURICE JOHNS by Helen Oliff May 24, 2019 NativeKnot.com
Jacob Maurice Johns: Hometown: Mesa, Arizona Tribal Affiliation: Akimel O’otham (Gila River Pima) and Hopi
Jacob attended cosmetology school in Washington state and then worked as a hairdresser and rave promoter/DJ before discovering his passion for social issues and completely shifting gears in his career. Jacob became serious about his social activism in 2016 after the presidential election and contributed greatly to movements such as the water protection protest at Standing Rock. Today, Jacob contracts as a Community Supported Organizer for the nonprofit organization Backbone Campaign, where he focuses on organizing front-line and non-violent direct action.
Art has been a passion of Jacob’s for as long as he can remember — his mother was a portrait artist, so he grew up in an environment that nurtured creativity. Jacob’s skills are mostly self-taught, but his mother provided some tips and tricks on portrait drawing once that became his focus in 2002. Early on, Jacob focused mainly on black and white paintings but has since incorporated more color into his work to create a “gritty urban feel that brings light to darkness” and connects the past to the future.
We as a society crave new models for progressing the consciousness of humanity. As a community organizer, my work stems from this effort to innovate new ways of moving society forward. The out-dated models of how we live on this planet are failing, and we need new paradigms that uplift the planet to a higher state that heals our world. My organizing efforts have focused on multiple interconnected issues involving social justice and minority rights, as well as environmental protection. Currently, I immerse myself in progressing society in a multitude of ways.
I draw from my cultural heritage continuously as I work, using traditional ceremonious concepts, combined with art and activism with each event, rally and movement, taking us one step closer to a mindful planetary consciousness. I am stepping full time into this work in order to help co-create tangible goals instead of adding to opposition. We as human beings need to create new ways of connecting that break down imagined walls of separation.